My son was diagnosed with autism (Asperger's Syndrome) when he was 6 years old. He is 22 now and I am being told by his therapist that he now suffers from OCD. She recommended this website so that I can be more educated about his condition. He and I live in the same house. His older brother and younger sister have their own places. My husband passed away in January so I am now dealing with this by myself. He completed his Associate's Degree over the past two years and now its time to get a job, otherwise there will be nothing productive happening in his life. He is manipulating me and doing everything he can to avoid this task. I am trying, trying, trying to be patient and I do understand that this is difficult for him due to the social anxiety. I don't know what to do to help him move forward without disrespecting his disability. Can anyone offer some advice?
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First, I'm really sorry for your loss. And I'm sorry that you now have to handle this on your own. I hope you are able to get some help from his siblings and other family members and friends. I have a child who struggles with OCD, but she is not suffering from autism/Aspergers. That adds a whole other dimension that I'm sure multiplies his struggles, and yours as well.
It is excruciatingly difficult to watch our children suffer and not be able to fix things for them. Accepting where our children are vs. where we expected them to be can be really hard. But my wife and I have learned that acceptance is something we need to do, for their sake as well as ours. We have to manage our own anxiety and not burden them with it. Taking good care of ourselves, physically and mentally, is also important so we can be there for them.
We've watched our daughter get stronger and gain independence through treatment. She has learned skills and built a support network around herself that gives us more peace of mind. I congratulate your son for earning his associate's degree. That is an accomplishment to celebrate. I can imagine that going out into the job market for someone like your son, or our daughter, is very difficult and anxiety provoking. Burdening them with our anxiety only adds to their struggles. I think the best thing you can do is to support him to make that transition at his own pace. Let him know that you are there for him and love him unconditionally.
I would highly recommend working with a therapist who specializes in OCD and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Educating yourself on all the different ways OCD presents itself is also very helpful and HardQuirk is a great resource for that.
The bi-weekly HardQuirk supporters group is another great place to talk to and get feedback from other supporters.
It sounds like you have already been incredibly resilient throughout some of these challenging experiences and as you likely know by now, the co-occurrence of OCD and ASD is not uncommon. We have a support group that we facilitate every other week on Thursday evenings at 8:00PM EST (the next meeting will be on August 12th) where we address issues like these that come up and how to address them with empathy- I invite you to attend if you’re available!